If a Woody Allen film runs in a theatre, but no one cares...

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ran­dall King

WOODY Allen best ad­dressed the realm of phi­los­o­phy in his 1975 film Love and Death, a Dos­to­evsky par­ody that em­ployed di­a­logue such as this:

“To love is to suf­fer. To avoid suf­fer­ing, one must not love. But then one suf­fers from not lov­ing. There­fore, to love is to suf­fer; not to love is to suf­fer; to suf­fer is to suf­fer.”

Allen isn’t jok­ing around with this con­tem­po­rary tale of a dis­si­pated phi­los­o­phy pro­fes­sor named Abe (Joaquin Phoenix) who gets a job at an idyl­lic col­lege in New­port, R.I., on the strength of his rep­u­ta­tion as an in­tel­lec­tual hell-raiser.

But those days are long be­hind him as the boozy Abe set­tles in, tak­ing fre­quent swigs of sin­gle malt from his flask, en­tic­ing un­hap­pily mar­ried col­league Rita (Parker Posey) into a sex­u­ally un­ful­fill­ing af­fair and con­fess­ing to his stu­dents that phi­los­o­phy is just “men­tal mas­tur­ba­tion.”

Abe is jolted out of his en­nui cour­tesy of a flir­ta­tion with ide­al­is­tic young stu­dent Jill (Emma Stone).

Well, she alone doesn’t do it, but he does hap­pen to be in her com­pany when he over­hears a dis­traught woman in a res­tau­rant de­scrib­ing how she stands to lose cus­tody of her chil­dren at the hands of an in­com­pe­tent judge.

The mere idea of sur­rep­ti­tiously mur­der­ing the judge on the woman’s be­half re­vi­tal­izes Abe, spurring a ful­lon ro­man­tic en­tan­gle­ment with Jill, among other things.

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